Opinion: Social media, like all marketing platforms, cannot be judged in isolation


By The Drum, Editorial

October 15, 2011 | 3 min read

With the advancement of social media platforms competing for space, and the boundaries of marketing channels becoming blurred, Karl Knights, director of new business for Kenshoo, discusses the perils of judging social enterprise in isolation.

It has become all too common for marketers to compartmentalise opportunities as good for one thing and not good for another. However, as the Web is evolving, this does not ring true, especially with social media. Instead, it is important that you hypothesise, test, optimise and refine what you are doing within social and look at how this integrates into your greater marketing plan. After all, people rely on social media to find out what their friends are saying, share their opinions, and spend hours of past time – therefore it is an essential medium to measure.

There is constant speculation that one or another social avenues is failing and cannot compete within the market, but in marketing terms, what does this mean for the likes of Facebook? That it is simply a stage for driving awareness and brand metrics? That it cannot develop and expand into the realms of other commercial models? With the scale of its audience and the vast amount of time spent on the site by each user, how could it not engage and drive a brand message? To pigeonhole it as one thing, will only limit its values to marketers in the long run.

With this said, you cannot do a like-for-like comparison on these elements, as comparing Facebook against Google in terms of search for example would be unrealistic due to vast difference in visitor stats. How can you compare PPC/CPA on Google against the likes of Facebook? Google has a much more advanced platform with a far greater audience reach. The two are incomparable in my opinion. However, this doesn’t mean that Facebook is bad for direct response, I am sure that there are companies that drive excellent direct response results from Facebook. Our data even shows us that one internet retailer achieved a ROI of $1.90 on Facebook using Kenshoo Social.

So the point to be made is a simple but important one. Viewed in isolation, the answers to current concerns about social marketing value are hard to find. The true value of social media and search is still being discovered.

So how do you measure the effectiveness of search and social – measure the lift in results. Viewed alongside other digital channels you can see the patterns and relationships between Facebook and Search, Facebook and Affiliate Marketing, Facebook with Retargeting, Facebook with SEO. Our data shows that 20% of all conversion paths showed ad clicks from more than one channel (search and social).

For this, technology serves a clear purpose to evolve an effective model of attribution for advertisers. Facebook is a vital part of many paths to conversion, but the effective model for each advertiser should be unique and it needs to be tested, optimised and refined, not simply focused on one platform in isolation. Furthermore, as advertisers look to use other social platforms like Twitter for more commercial purposes, the need to derive actionable insight to enable better marketing decisions will be solved by technology.


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